When the actor Kevin Spacey came out of the closet on Sunday while apologizing to actor Anthony Rapp for sexual harassment, many onlookers were aghast by the conflation.
Many accused Spacey, 58, of attempting to deflect attention from Rapp’s claim that he was 14 when Spacey picked him up, “placed him on his bed and climbed on top of him, making a sexual advance.” TV host Guy Branum called the diversionary tactic a “PR smokescreen.”
The classiest way to come out of the closet is as a PR smokescreen to distract people from the fact that you tried to molest a child.— Guy Branum (@guybranum) October 30, 2017
Now, several news outlets are being skewered for stumbling into Spacey’s trap.
As HuffPost contributor Yashar Ali noted on Twitter, the New York Daily News, ABC News and Reuters were among the news outlets that led their coverage of the scandal with the actor’s coming out rather than the harassment allegations.
The New York Daily News too? Add them to AP, Reuters, ABC News. Awful. https://t.co/gCy2Hw50uZ— Yashar Ali (@yashar) October 30, 2017
Reuters tweeted a link to its Spacey story early Monday, saying the “Oscar-winning actor” had declared “he lives life as a gay man.”
The backlash was swift.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING @Reuters? AGAIN? THIS IS NOT THE STORY. DO BETTER.— Alex Schmider (@anderfinn) October 30, 2017
THIS IS NOT THE GODDAMN STORY AND YOU ARE BEING PLAYED. https://t.co/gcU4BvUyzY— BOOisa (@LouisatheLast) October 30, 2017
.@Reuters you misspelled "Kevin Spacey tries to blame alleged underage sexual assault on being drunk and gay."— Maryann Martindale (@martindalemm) October 30, 2017
Don't bury the lede.— Scott Candage (@ScottCandage) October 30, 2017
As criticism mounted, Reuters sent a second tweet about two hours later — this time with a decidedly different peg.
Reacting to some of the news coverage, Guardian reporter Julia Carrie Wong said it was alarming “how well” Spacey’s “cynical ploy” was working to distract and deflect.
part of the horror of spacey’s cynical ploy to use his coming out to deflect abuse allegations is how well it is working— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) October 30, 2017
Several other journalists, including Vulture reporter Mark Harris and Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro, also lambasted the approach taken by some outlets.
When every straight late-shift news editor manages to miss the goddamn point. pic.twitter.com/VdJsp2ouBE— realMarkHarris (@MarkHarrisNYC) October 30, 2017
It's as if three weeks ago, all the headlines had been HARVEY WEINSTEIN TO BEGIN IMPROVING SELF— realMarkHarris (@MarkHarrisNYC) October 30, 2017
Note to media: when an A-list actor quasi-admits to attempted molestation of a 14-year-old, the headline isn't that he's coming out as gay.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) October 30, 2017
Actor and activist Rose McGowan, one of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged victims and an outspoken advocate for those affected by sexual violence, had a message for the media as Rapp’s allegations against Spacey began making headlines.
Dear fellow media:— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 30, 2017
Keep focus on #AnthonyRapp BE THE VICTIM'S VOICE. Help us level the playing field.
Rapp, who stars in “Star Trek: Discovery,” told BuzzFeed News in a recent interview that Spacey assaulted him at a party in 1986. The “House of Cards” actor was 26 at the time.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.